Pass Still Going Well

Song: “Lust for Life” by Iggy Pop.

Mood: Eight. Doing pretty well.

Today started out pretty well. I got up at about 9AM (J had already gone to work) and had breakfast. I was feeling a little bit anxious but I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. The good thing is I was easily able to distract myself from it by keeping busy. I did my worry hour and some mindfulness exercises and then plucked away at my bass guitar for a little while.

After that, I headed out to the garage to tidy it up and get it ready for me to do some welding. I spent about two hours out there and made a lot of headway (although there is still a bit to do) so I should be able to put up my welding blankets and screens and start welding next week! I’ve been thinking about a lot of welding projects to do, some of which are pretty easy and some of which I’ll probably never be able to successfully do. It’ll be fun to try, though.

After I got tired of cleaning the garage, I came inside and wrote the hobby post from earlier today and then did some more writing until it was time for supper. J is hanging out with a friend this evening so I was by myself for supper. I listened to a lot of music while I cooked and ate and really enjoyed it.

After supper I did some more writing, some homework that Dr C gave me, and played some more SoaSE. I’m going to get back to Mass Effect shortly but I just don’t want it to go by too fast. I know I can play it over again (and I’m sure I will) but I’m really enjoying it and don’t want to burn through it too quickly.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do this evening. I may do some more writing or maybe I’ll listen to some records. Maybe I’ll put on a movie. Oh, and that reminds me – Navajo Joe was pretty bad. I enjoyed watching it with J, though!

Tomorrow we’re having some guests over for a pizza and game evening. I’m looking forward to it and really hope that everything goes well!

Stay safe!

Hobby Focus: Astronomy

Hobby: Astronomy

Cost: $0 to very expensive

Time Required: Completely up to you

The night sky has always fascinated me. How everything moves across the sky at night and during the seasons, the phases of the moon – I’m interested in it all. The best part about astronomy is that (unless it’s cloudy) there’s always something you can see in the night sky. If you live in the middle of a large city, there are still some stars, planets, and, of course, the moon that you can look at.

Sky maps, charts, books, and simulations are available all over the place and they’re a great place to start when getting your bearings in the night sky. If you want, you can sign out a book from your local library, sit outside one night, and do some old-school astronomy with just your eyes. Get used to the constellations, figure out which dots in the sky are planets instead of stars, and, if you’re really lucky, catch something like the aurorae or a meteor streaking across the sky.

A pair of binoculars is a great way to expand your nightly repertoire. A lot more objects come into view, including some asterisms (look for Collinder 399 for a really neat one) and some of the planets become a tiny circle instead of a point of light.

Telescopes open up even more opportunities for you. You can see Jupiter’s cloud bands, Saturn’s rings, some star clusters, and the cragginess of the moon’s surface. If you’re looking for a telescope, I would advise against the small 60mm refractor telescopes common in department stores. I used one for a while and while it technically worked, it was very frustrating to use. The optics weren’t that great, the base was very flimsy, and it was very difficult to get it to point to exactly where I wanted it to.

So here’s what you need to get started:

  • Maybe a sky map from your local library or online resource.

Here’s what you need to really start opening up the sky:

  • A pair of binoculars, and
  • A sky map

If you really want to get into things, here’s what you’ll need:

  • A sky map
  • A small Dobsonian or decent-quality refracting telescope.

If you want the sky available at your fingertips immediately, you’ll probably want:

  • A larger (6 or 8 inch) telescope that comes with an intelligent mount that you can just type in what you want to see and it finds it for you.

Astronomy can be a very rewarding hobby if you’re patient. If you’re planning a night out to look at the stars, make sure you bring a list of several things you want to see. If you get yourself all set up outside and want to look for one particular target, it’s probably going to be hidden by clouds or washed out by city light or behind a building or tree. Just look up at the sky, get acquainted with it, and enjoy!

One last thing – there is a branch of astronomy that involves looking at the sun. PLEASE DO NOT LOOK AT THE SUN WITH ANY EQUIPMENT UNTIL YOU CONSULT A PROFESSIONAL AND BUY THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT. Immediate eye damage WILL occur if you look at the sun with binoculars or a telescope.

Stay safe!

And Another Good Day!

Song: “Elenor” by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes.

Mood: Eight. A bit of anxiety earlier, but doing well.

J had to work today so it was my first day home alone. She was rushing out of the house so there wasn’t time to have breakfast together so I went back to sleep. I woke up about two hours later, got out of bed, and started to think about what I was going to do with my day.

I did my worry hour and some mindfulness exercises and found that I was feeling pretty good. I put the new dashcam in the truck and drove for a little while before heading to my Dr C appointment. The appointment went very well; she has been chipping away at my inability to figure out what I need to do to be a good person and we found some examples from the ward where I did something nice for someone or helped someone out. I have a hard time balancing out the things I do with the things that others do for me. That person who touched me on the shoulder and spoke to me the other day caused me to have a significantly positive emotional response. I just don’t think that the things that I do for others make them feel as well. I hope they do, but I doubt it. Still, just being there for someone is something, I suppose.

After I got home I had some lunch and then decided I was going to finally do it and go for a motorcycle ride. Unfortunately, I appear to now be too husky for my riding jacket. A little bummed out about that, I put on some music and got out my colouring stuff. I coloured for a while until I realized that I was dancing in my chair along with the music. Since nobody was home and the blinds were closed, I got out of my chair and danced around for a little while. Yeah, that’s quite the image – the fat 40+ guy hopping clumsily around – but you know what? I really enjoyed myself. After dancing for a short while I headed downstairs to the record player and put on some music and started dancing around to that. It felt great, nobody to see me, and I could just flail around and have a great time. When I was done, I was in a great mood.

Once J got home, we made supper – a really tasty beef noodle dish – and then headed off to the hospital to check in and get my medications for the second part of my pass. When you sign in there, your nurse usually wants to chat with you to make sure everything’s okay. It was really great to be able to tell her that I was doing well and having a good time on the pass. I got my medications, signed back out, and we headed home.

Tonight we’re going to watch the second movie in that spaghetti western DVD set. I think it’s Navajo Joe, starring Burt Reynolds. It can’t possibly be worse than Pancho Villa… or can it?

Stay safe!

Pass Is Going Well

Song: “King of the Road” by Roger Miller.

Today has been a pretty good day. I think I’d rate my mood at around an eight.

Our air conditioner was gasping its final breaths so while I was in the hospital, J called one of the heating & air conditioning places and ordered a new air conditioner. The installers came by today at around 8AM. J had the day off so she stayed out in the dining room to answer any of their questions while I chickened out and kind of hid in my office. Everything worked out well though, and the installers were done and gone by 11AM. While they were working I did some writing and played some Sins of a Solar Empire, which is a pretty decent game that requires concentration and planning.

After the A/C crew left, J and I spent some time talking about food and setting up schedules so we’re not standing in the kitchen, staring at each other and saying, “I dunno, what do YOU want for supper?” or just giving up and ordering out. While I was in the hospital, J and her mom worked on a lot of that stuff and it looks like we’ll be able to plan a month of home cooked meals that are pretty easy to make and not chicken fingers every second night. Don’t get me wrong – chicken fingers are right up there as one of my favourite foods, but even I don’t want them every day.

After that, J took me to the hardware store to pick up a cheap little dashcam that I had a rain check for and then dropped me off at home on her way to an appointment. I unboxed the camera, put it together, and spent some time playing with it. It is… well, it’s… uhm… about what I expected for a $30 dashcam. It’ll do the trick, though, and I think I’m going to install it in the truck tomorrow and test it on the way to my Dr C appointment.

When J got home we talked for a bit more and then made supper. We used to eat our meals in the basement, sitting on the couch in front of the TV but since I got out of the psych ward the first time we’ve had most of our meals at the dining room table. I really enjoy it – particularly at supper when J and I can relax and talk about how our days were while we eat. I also think I tend to eat less when we eat upstairs.

After supper, I played a little more SoaSE, tinkered around with the dashcam a little more, and did some colouring. After that, J and I decided to crack open the box of spaghetti western DVDs that I found in the cheap bin at Walmart. First up: Telly Savalas in Pancho Villa. I’m glad that J enjoys watching terrible movies with me because this one barely made any sense and the ending came out of nowhere. Nevertheless, it’s another notch in our western movie belts.

You may have noticed up at the top that I mentioned a song. I think I’m going to try to do that each day from now on. I listen to a LOT of music and some days it feels like one particular song jumps out at me more than normal for some reason. Could be my mood, what I’m working on, or just which chemicals are doing what in my brain at which time. Regardless, I’ll give it a try for a bit and see how it goes.

Well, that’s about it for me for today. I’m having trouble focusing my eyes and my typing accuracy has fallen off a cliff. Time for bed.

Stay safe!

Home On A Pass!

Today has been a good day. I was excited about going on a pass so I didn’t get to sleep as early as I’d hoped but the sleep I did get was good. I often sleep on my side and I’m finding that my hips are a little uncomfortable when I wake up. I think it’s the hospital mattress but since I’m sleeping at home tonight, I’ll sleep on my side and see what happens.

There was no group this morning but group this afternoon was a guest speaker who spoke about the local Anxiety Disorders Association, types of anxiety, and the services they offer. It was a very good session – lots of information and good handouts.

My appointment with Dr W went quite well too. Since I’m doing pretty well we didn’t make any medication changes, but sometime soon he’d like to start reducing some of the sedating medications I’m on (quetiapine, haloperidol, zopiclone, and lorazepam), which I have no problem with. I’ve been very lucky with side effects so far but with recent experiences I think my brain doesn’t like it when I take medications away so we’ll have to chip away at it very slowly.

J stopped by the hospital at about 6PM and we went home. It was very good to walk in the door with her and start getting used to being home. I haven’t been away for very long (I think today is day 7) but J has accomplished a lot of things while I was away. The garden is planted, two new trees have been planted, the basement has been tidied up to the point of almost being unrecognizable, and she’s arranged for the air conditioner guys to come over tomorrow to replace our very weary ancient unit.

We talked for a while and then went outside to water the plants. After that, we sat on the deck for a while and enjoyed the evening air. It was very nice, just sitting outside and talking. Unfortunately, a bit of anxiety started to creep in on me but it was time to take my nighttime medications so hopefully they’ll help. It’s not too bad – just a little bit of nerves – but I want this pass to go really well. If it doesn’t, that’s okay – that’s why I’m doing the passes instead of being discharged. They’re a good test.

Stay safe!

Going On A Pass!

In just a little while, J will be here to pick me up and take me home for two days! I’m really looking forward to getting home and hanging out with J. I’ve enjoyed the visits and video chats but they’re just not the same as sitting at home on the comfy couch, talking about anything that comes into our heads. It will be really great to sleep in my own bed and eat my own food. I also have a Dr C appointment on Thursday that I’m really hoping to get to.

The other good news is that if the pass goes well, I have another two-day pass set up so all I need to do is come back to the hospital, check in, and pick up my medications for that pass. If that pass goes well, I have an overnight pass lined up too. That means I’m going to spend the next five nights at home!

There’s no pressure, either. If I don’t feel well I can always go back to the hospital at any time of the day – no harm, no foul. J was wondering if I was going to “bounce” from my good mood and I think putting myself at home with the various stressors present there will be a really good test to see if I’m OK to go home.

I’m really looking forward to this. I hope it goes well!

Stay safe!

Not Much Longer, I Think

Today was another good day. I went to bed last night at about 11 but was so excited about concentrating on reading that it was after midnight before I fell asleep. I woke up a little tired so I set a timer and took a short nap after breakfast and before morning group started.

Group this morning was about how our weekend went and what we wanted to do this week to help us along in our recovery. I felt a little silly but I said I was really happy about being able to read again. Nobody gave me a weird look or anything, which I really appreciated.

After group was done, I went back to the book and was really happy to see I hadn’t lost my newfound concentration overnight. I finished it early in the afternoon. About 340 pages in total. Not too shabby. And it was a good book, too.

I overheard one of the other residents talking about how they were getting out shortly and needed to get a place to live, a job, and a bunch of other things that I just take for granted. It made me sad to know that there are people out there who have absolutely nothing that they don’t make themselves. I’m so lucky to be where I am and to have the support system I have… I don’t know how to put this properly into words but when I’m better I would really like to learn if there are any ways I can help people in those situations.

Group this afternoon was very interesting and was about what to do in your life when things don’t go to plan and about the concept of post-traumatic growth. It gave me a lot to think about and I think I’m going to do some research into it and discuss it with Dr C once I’m out.

My meeting with Dr W this afternoon went very well. No medication adjustments this time, and he sounds confident that I’ll be out this week. I also now have a two-day pass starting tomorrow! When I got here less than a week ago I had a person watching me do everything – eat, sleep, move around, everything, I’m now at the point where I can go home to visit and may actually be discharged this week!

In other happy news, J and my mother-in-law stopped by this evening! We talked in the cafeteria for almost two hours and I had a great time. It was so good to see family and have a chance to hear about how things in the outside world were going. I really miss J and being at home.

As J and my mother-in-law were leaving, I came across a former resident sitting in one of the chairs downstairs. Turns out they’ve got most of their medical and mental issues under control and they’re going to be released shortly. I wished them a genuine good luck and best wishes and then headed into the Sanctuary to do some meditating.

As I was in there, the former resident walked into the Sanctuary too and sat down, After a few minutes, they went to leave and, as they passed me, they put their hand on my shoulder and whispered that God would look after me.

Now, this is someone who the Universe has dealt a really crappy hand. And I do mean a really awful one. This person has nothing other than problems but still faces the world with their chin up and their beliefs intact. I can’t imagine dealing with half of the things they do.

As they left the Sanctuary, emotions welled up and I started to cry. I felt terrible for the person but also very happy that they seemed so content with how things were going. I really, really hope things go well.

So despite a couple of little emotional ups and downs, today has been a good day. And tomorrow I get to go home for two days!

Stay safe!

Still In The Hospital

I’m still in the hospital but today has been a very good day. I got to bed last night at about 11PM and then woke up this morning in time for breakfast. I took a short nap in the afternoon and have spent much of the day doing one thing – reading.

It may not seem like much but this is HUGE for me. I haven’t been able to concentrate enough to read a book since before I went on sick leave from work. Today, however, I was looking at the bookshelf here and saw The Ghost King, by R.A. Salvatore. I used to read and enjoy his novels back when I was in high school so I thought I’d give this one a try.

Two hours later, I pried my eyes from the books and realized that I was reading. Like, actually reading something. The knowledge almost made me giddy. I’m not reading at anywhere near the speed I used to, but I can concentrate enough to be able to fall into the book and lose track of time and the things around me.

I feel silly making such a big deal out of this but to me this it’s very big thing. I hope that being able to concentrate on reading means I can concentrate on learning new things too, and that would be a fantastic milestone in my recovery.

Otherwise, I remembered to call my dad today and wish him a Happy Father’s Day. He and my mom were both in good moods, and it was great to talk to them.

This evening, J and I had a short video chat. It was really good to talk to her and she’s hoping to make it out here for a visit tomorrow! I’m really looking forward to seeing her – I miss her terribly.

It’s almost bedtime but I think I’m going to see if I can fit in a few more pages before my eyes get too heavy.

Stay safe!

Had A Good Time This Evening

When I posted earlier today, things were going quite well. As the day turned into the evening, things got even better. I played a bunch of crib and had a good time, watched some TV, and watched The Magnificent Seven – the original, not the remake. What a great movie.

It felt good to be up and about. I spoke with my nurse and told her how I was doing. She was very happy to hear it and gave me some tips for keeping things on an even keel. Again, the staff here are fantastic.

I do miss J, though, and feel bad for not being home and leaving everything to her. We’re getting a new air conditioner (ours is ancient) and she needs to take the day off to be there. I’ve also been really interested in gardening this year but other than building the garden box and filling it up with dirt, J has done everything else. I’m so lucky to have a wife as supportive and wonderful as J. She’s my favourite person and best friend.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen tomorrow. Hopefully it will be as good a day as today was. No guarantees of course, but I’ve got my fingers crossed!

Stay safe!

Things Are Going Well

I had another good sleep last night. Had a lot of dreams including a repeat of one where I was trying to help the Dukes of Hazzard break into a boxing club. No, that’s not a typo.

This morning was the first in a long time where I didn’t go back to bed right after breakfast. I had breakfast and then did some laundry, wrote in my journal, and texted a bit with J.

After lunch I took a short nap. It was different today because instead of feeling like I had to take a nap, I slept because it felt good, and I woke up with even more energy, which was great.

So here’s where I’m at, compared to when I arrived:

  • voices: still gone
  • bad thoughts: gone
  • sleep: improved
  • energy: improved (a lot)
  • mood: improved (a lot)

So yeah, things are looking up. Right now, I feel like I could go home and be fine. I need to wait until Monday to talk to Dr W, though.

Other than that, it’s been pretty quiet around the ward today. Nice and calm for things like meditating and doing mindfulness exercises.

Stay safe!